“The heart is more than a muscle; it has a rhythm and a purpose. Most importantly, the energy of the heart is what connects us all.”
Protect your heart and reduce stress
Stress can be a major influence on chronic illness, especially heart disease. We can neutralize stress by finding ways to increase our feeling of wellbeing and happiness, day to day. The little things we can do each day may seem like David fighting Goliath, but we know how that story ends. Small things do count. Stress can be cumulative through the day or week.
Here are some ways you can take stress out at the knees with small karate chops to have a tremendous effect on how you feel, in addition to protecting and preserving your heart health:
Staying properly hydrated is health promoting, but it can also make a difference in our disposition. Studies link bad moods and dehydration. Carrying a refillable water bottle with you at all times is a great way to make sure you keep drinking small amounts throughout the day.
Yes, experience that thing you’ve always wanted to do!
Is it a cooking class? A yoga class package? A camping trip? Skiing? A trip to the beach?
Pick some kind of splurge – an experience you would love. Make plans and provisions to see it through. The anticipation of attending that musical you’ve always wanted to see, that super fun excursion, that ballroom dancing class is enough to dramatically lift your mood.
Smile in your mind, smile in your heart and even smile in your liver
When we smile like we mean it, this might involve putting that smile not only on our face but also where it resonates most with us. We can smile from our heart, our mind, and yes, some of us could do with some smiling in our liver, which in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the organ that is said to store anger. This helps our own feeling of wellbeing, and it can also completely change another person’s day, even a stranger’s, for the better.
Hit the gym
Countless studies find that regular exercise helps release endorphins, our happy hormones, from the brain. Newer research also shows other chemical compounds, endocannabinoids, contribute to the feelings of well-being, calm, or high that people receive from exercise. Find something you enjoy doing and get started: walking, running, Zumba – the choices are endless. Joining a gym or a sports team is fun way to meet new people, and find a workout partner to keep you motivated to show up.
Disconnect from technology
In the age of social media, email and instant messaging, it is easy to get caught up in constant virtual communication. This is not humanistic. Humans thrive on actual relationships and conversation. Filling up our sense of wellbeing through time spent with friends, talking about life in person, making our kids laugh, even spending time with our pets can help us destress and re-connect.
Do something selfless
Maybe it’s scraping the snow off a co-worker’s windshield before you leave for work, volunteering to help the elderly, offering to bring a working mom some food or helping out at the humane society. Giving back in a way that you truly enjoy can help build a strong sense of meaningfulness for you and for others. Giving can even make us physically and mentally healthier.
In this wild, busy, messy and full modern day life it’s hard to disengage from it all. However, when we do and allow time for calm, we can recharge our batteries. Both our memory and creativity is expanded by experiencing boredom. What springs forth from this if we allow ourselves to feel it?
It turns out what we’ve been looking for is a rather simple recipe: plenty of water; the occasional excursion; smiling from the inside-out; regular work-outs; technology free zones; healthy doses of generosity and a little boredom will give you a less stressed-out, happy heart.